Author Topic: alarm sounding in rented home; can't sleep, what's reasonable?  (Read 1559 times)

Villanelle

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alarm sounding in rented home; can't sleep, what's reasonable?
« on: October 18, 2021, 12:33:24 PM »
Last night at 4am, we were awaked by a horrible alarm.  Our rented home has a security system which we have never used.  We've had an issue with it once before, but it chimed for a while and then went silent.  We informed the PM (who strikes me as no very bright) and her response was that we need to contact our provider, but we don't have a provider as we didn't activate it.  (And we are not required to.  When we moved in she told us that if we wanted service, we would need to set it up on our own, or not.)  But we dropped it because the issue resolved itself. 

Last night, it did not resolve.  Both alarm consoles were screaming.  Finally, we pulled them off the wall and cut the wires, and the sound stopped.  But now, every ~~90 minutes, there is one very loud scream.  It's not from the boxes we removed from the walls because I put those in the garage after the first scream, and it's still happening and clearly from inside the house.  I think the alarm system was hardwired to smoke alarms.  (There are 2 smoke detectors--the old set that was part of the security system, and then a new independent set which was put in probably because working detectors is required in a rental, so the security system wasn't sufficient.) 

So now every hour or two, I have a near heart attack when there is this loud alarm, that last about one second.

We will not be able to sleep through this.  Does our landlord need to provide a hotel?  It that reasonable to ask?  I chatted with the PM about it but that was before the intermittent alarm, so I told her we cut the wires and that was it. (Coincidentally, she is scheduled to come by tomorrow for a semi-annual inspection and walk-through.) She hasn't gotten back to me about my two messages about the continued issue, once I realized there is still a problem.  It's 230, so it seems unlikely at this point that anyone will come out today.  So I think a hotel is in our future. 

As a landlord, I'd be willing to either pay for a hotel, or discount rent by a pro-rated amount for each day.  But maybe I'm just generous? What's normal or reasonable to expect?

Morning Glory

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Re: alarm sounding in rented home; can't sleep, what's reasonable?
« Reply #1 on: October 18, 2021, 12:52:11 PM »
Can you shut it off at the breaker panel?

Villanelle

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Re: alarm sounding in rented home; can't sleep, what's reasonable?
« Reply #2 on: October 18, 2021, 01:04:16 PM »
Can you shut it off at the breaker panel?

I checked the panel and nothing is labeled "alarm".  Since the sound is infrequent and there is no other indicator of whether that system is getting power, the only option I can think of would be to turn off every breaker in the house, or perhaps half of them and then, if in a few hours there is no sound, I could turn half of those back on, and continue like that.  But that could take a day or more, and would leave me without power in much of my house in the interim. 

Sibley

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Re: alarm sounding in rented home; can't sleep, what's reasonable?
« Reply #3 on: October 18, 2021, 01:30:49 PM »
It may very well have a backup battery somewhere and that's what screeching. I would see if you can trace wires from where the panels were to elsewhere. In the condo I stayed in the battery was in the garage about 10 feet from where the panel used to be. Failing that, I would insist the property manager get it taken care of, today, or you will start disconnecting smoke alarms as your peace is being disturbed. Which is a safety violation, and they'll get dinged. And I would do this in writing - text or email so you have a paper trail.

Villanelle

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Re: alarm sounding in rented home; can't sleep, what's reasonable?
« Reply #4 on: October 18, 2021, 02:22:56 PM »
It may very well have a backup battery somewhere and that's what screeching. I would see if you can trace wires from where the panels were to elsewhere. In the condo I stayed in the battery was in the garage about 10 feet from where the panel used to be. Failing that, I would insist the property manager get it taken care of, today, or you will start disconnecting smoke alarms as your peace is being disturbed. Which is a safety violation, and they'll get dinged. And I would do this in writing - text or email so you have a paper trail.

The wires that we cut--we literally just snipped them, which was actually pretty stupid but it was 4 am and we were sleepy and exhausted from a long day of travel and then desperate to just make the screaming stop when nothing else seemed to work--just go in to the wall and I can't see anything.  If I pull down the smoke detector, I can't see anything beyond the fitting that attaches it to the ceiling and if there is a replaceable battery in it, it is inside the unit and I don't see any way to access it without tearing it apart (which is tempting). 

The PM is here now, and of course the alarm hasn't sounded during her visit, at least not yet and she is wrapping up. 

This alarm system has been nothing but trouble since we moved in.  If they try to charge me for cutting those wires I am going to be PISSED.  This has definitely reenforced my feeling that I will never install an alarm system anywhere I live.  What an epic pain in the ass, even when t isn't being used. 

WanderLucky

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Re: alarm sounding in rented home; can't sleep, what's reasonable?
« Reply #5 on: October 18, 2021, 09:14:02 PM »
I had this happen in a condo unit that I used to live in. When the alarm went off, we called the alarm company whose name was on unit and they walked us through shutting it off. I can't remember how we dealt with it after that (this was like 20 years ago), but I think we had to have the entire system uninstalled to ensure that never happened again. Your landlord should take care of this.

Zamboni

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Re: alarm sounding in rented home; can't sleep, what's reasonable?
« Reply #6 on: October 18, 2021, 09:37:48 PM »
That sounds pretty awful. I hope you are able to get it resolved soon. I don't have any advice and can only offer my sympathy.

Ecky

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Re: alarm sounding in rented home; can't sleep, what's reasonable?
« Reply #7 on: October 19, 2021, 05:47:35 AM »
I occasionally have to work on alarm systems at work. Most of them have a central "panel", usually in a metal case with a key, where all of the wired devices connect. Find this panel (often on a wall in a basement or closet), and unplug both the transformer powering it and the backup battery inside it.

Google "intrusion panel" if you need a visual aid.

If it's locked and you can't get to the battery inside, simply unplug the transformer and wait it out, the battery won't lass more than 24 hours, and you'll be done with it.

Villanelle

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Re: alarm sounding in rented home; can't sleep, what's reasonable?
« Reply #8 on: October 19, 2021, 10:32:48 AM »
Electrician is comign this afternoon, but it is unclear to me exactly what he has been tasked by the PM with doing.  But We couldn't take it anymore.  We finally located the actual alarm box (the one that makes the sound) and pulled it of the wall.  DH disconnected it by prying apart the little connector bits that are used when attaching electric wires together.  (I have no idea what those are called.  Usually they look lie little caps, but in this case they were more like pinched metal tubes.)  So it is dead and can no longer scream at us, and a decent nights' sleep was had. 

I am going to be PISSED if they try to charge us for the "damage" we did for snipping the wires on the 2 consoles in the middle of the night.  It does seem like it would be fairly easy for us to fix (strip wires, connect) if it comes to that though.  Ideally, the electrician will just cut power to the entire damn security system.  We are already most of the way there since the cut the wires on the 2 consoles and detached the wires on the alarm, but the ancient smoke detectors are still up there and currently still receiving power.  That means that like all their evil counterparts, they could at any time go all "Maximum Overdrive" and turn against us.  The home has a second, unrelated set of smoke and CO2 detectors, so they are not needed. 

We did find the central panel, but it is locked and there was no key in the bag of keys we got when we moved in.

Zamboni

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Re: alarm sounding in rented home; can't sleep, what's reasonable?
« Reply #9 on: October 19, 2021, 09:28:43 PM »
Glad you took matters into your own hands.

Did you send the PM a letter documenting what action you took and why you had to take it? It never hurts to create an organized paper trail in tenant-landlord matters.

Villanelle

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Re: alarm sounding in rented home; can't sleep, what's reasonable?
« Reply #10 on: October 20, 2021, 10:35:54 AM »
They sent an electrician out yesterday and it was unclear to me what he was coming to do, so I messaged the PM to ask.  Her response:

Quote
Well, the homeowner gave me a few codes they used 10 years ago, however with cutting wires Iím not sure what you can do. The problem we are running into is you cut wires and this will need to be fixed.

That sounded pretty accusatory to me, so I asked what it was they thought I should do at 3am with a shrill alarm sounding.  She dogged the question, but I asked a second time, "I'd really like to know.  What do they think I should have done at 3am with an alarm going off?" and she said, "I understand".  Whether she actually understands or not, I don't know, but hopefully I at least planted the seed at that point.   If they can't come up with a better answer, then that sort of validates that I couldn't, either.  And if they had these supposed codes that might work, that seems like something we should have been told when we moved it, or at a minimum the first time we notified them about an issue with the system. 

The electrician unplugged the transformer which was plugged in to an outlet inside the utility closet.  We had no idea it was there.  He also removed the batteries from the security system smoke alarms.  (There is another set of independent smoke and CO2 detectors.)  That way, they wouldn't start chirping once their batteries started running low, since they were running only on the batteries once the power to the system was cut. 

PM told us to just put the consoles and alarm box back on the wall.  With the cut/disconnected wires they are completely non-functional.  If they attempt to charge is for the "damage" upon move out, it shouldn't be hard to DIY a splicing of the wires, though the principle of the thing will irk me.  I don't want to do it now as if there are batteries in the units, I worry they will scream at me at some point.  (Not totally rational because if that were they case, they'd be doing it now, I suppose. But this damn system has cost as several nights of sleep (even before this incident) so I want it 100% dead.

I haven't mailed the PM an actual letter, but I did make sure to lay everything out in our texts (several times over the course of the last few days) and I'm definitely saving a copy of those, as well as copies of the texts from the previous security system issues. 

yachi

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Re: alarm sounding in rented home; can't sleep, what's reasonable?
« Reply #11 on: October 20, 2021, 11:29:24 AM »
If you want some more opinions, you might want to ask in the Real Estate and Landlording subforum.

I think this alarm system should have been handled differently in the lease.  Either the landlord should carry a contract with the service provider, or the lease should stipulate that the renter must carry a contract with the service provider.  If neither of these things are in there, the panel and all sensors should have been disconnected by the landlord.

You cut live wires inside a landlord's house, and that landlord would sue the PM out of business if the wires sparked and caused a fire. Sending an electrician to make sure everything is safe seems very prudent to me.

I think your position should be (and is?) I've always wanted this alarm system disconnected, as it doesn't work without a provider, and the lease does not require that I pay for an alarm system.

Villanelle

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Re: alarm sounding in rented home; can't sleep, what's reasonable?
« Reply #12 on: October 20, 2021, 02:17:44 PM »
If you want some more opinions, you might want to ask in the Real Estate and Landlording subforum.

I think this alarm system should have been handled differently in the lease.  Either the landlord should carry a contract with the service provider, or the lease should stipulate that the renter must carry a contract with the service provider.  If neither of these things are in there, the panel and all sensors should have been disconnected by the landlord.

You cut live wires inside a landlord's house, and that landlord would sue the PM out of business if the wires sparked and caused a fire. Sending an electrician to make sure everything is safe seems very prudent to me.

I think your position should be (and is?) I've always wanted this alarm system disconnected, as it doesn't work without a provider, and the lease does not require that I pay for an alarm system.

That's definitely my position now.  Prior to the first issue, I was relatively indifferent to it as it was pretty easy to ignore.  But after several issues, ignoring it is no longer really an option, as it seems clear it only would have been a matter of time before the next issue with it.


 

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